Friends of Tidbinbilla – Waterwatch

SACTCG Waterwatch group profile
The ‘Friends of Tidbinbilla’ (FOT) Parkcare group are one the longest serving Waterwatch groups in the ACT. They have been providing monthly data on the Tidbinbilla River and its tributaries continuously since the early 90’s. ‘FOT’ support the Tidbinbilla rangers through their invaluable maintenance of walking trails, removal of weeds and monitoring of wildlife populations and in the reserve.

Originally approached to provide information about examples of pristine waterways in the ACT, they encountered an unexpected change in the levels of organic pollutants in one of the streams that revealed a population of feral pigs high in the reserve in 1997. Examples like this highlight the importance of our role in regular waterway monitoring. There have been similar stories from other Waterwatch groups around our region and it’s intriguing to see how some tests that we conduct month after month, often with little variation, can contribute to the discovery of something quite unexpected.

Fiona Spier, long serving member and current president of ‘FOT’, began Waterwatch monitoring in 1994. She remembers fondly the difference in the water levels in the Tidbinbilla river from those now. Before the 2003 fires the river and creeks would often flow so high that it was a tricky business getting a sample without getting wet.

Lower Tidbinbilla River last summer. Not a drop!

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve became a focus for recovery work in the natural environment in the wake of 2003. The river was a mess. The salt, mud and organic pollution levels all increased for months afterwards, with many of the surrounding creeks being completed filled with silt. It took almost 3 years for the turbidity (muddiness) of the Tidbinbilla River to return to something approximating ‘normal’ or pre 2003 levels. Even so Fiona says that the river and creeks have never really been the same since then. Engineering consultants working on the remodeling of the wetlands were keen to make use of ‘FOT’s data in their planning and design.

Gary Stephenson at Upper Tidbinbilla River monitoring site.

If you are interested in finding out more about the ‘Friends of Tidbinbilla’ Parkcare Group or indeed any of our Waterwatch activities please contact Martin Lind on 6296 6400 (Mon-Wed), or email